Leclerc encouraged by "messy" lap still setting pole

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc encouraged by "messy" lap still setting pole

Formula 1

Leclerc encouraged by "messy" lap still setting pole

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Charles Leclerc says the start of his pole lap was “quite messy” but the fact he was still quickest in qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix is an encouraging sign.

Max Verstappen was on provisional pole position after the first runs of Q3 but then went wide in the first sector on his final lap and aborted, leaving Leclerc to take pole from teammate Carlos Sainz. Despite the front-row lockout, the championship leader actually felt he hadn’t got the most out of his last lap.

“It’s tricky, very slippery; it’s sliding all around everywhere and it is very, very difficult to put everything together because as soon as you get out of line a little bit you lose a lot of grip and a lot of lap time,” Leclerc said. “The lap wasn’t perfect, but good enough to be on P1. The car was amazing today and hopefully we can keep that pace for tomorrow.

“Basically, from Turn 1 to Turn 8, the lap was quite messy and I wasn’t really improving. I caught back a little bit in Turns 4/5/6/7/8 but Turns 1/2/3 [weren’t] great. That’s the way it is — the second part of the lap, from Turn 11 to Turn 16, was quite good, and also the last corner was good even though it was very tricky with the change of tarmac today. The grip was much lower there compared to anywhere else on track, but at the end it was quite a good lap anyway.”

After taking his third pole position in five races, and being second on the other two occasions, Leclerc says he takes a lot of confidence from how consistently competitive the 2022 Ferrari is.

“It is a very strong package we have. It works in more or less all conditions since the beginning of the season so that is a good sign for the future. But, as I’ve said many times, I think the upgrades this year will be very, very important. We’ve had a few here which went in the right direction and hopefully we’ll have some more during the season to stay on top.”

One area Red Bull appears to have a clear advantage is straight-line speed, but Leclerc hopes Ferrari can keep the likes of Verstappen and Sergio Perez at a safe enough distance to avoid coming under threat on Miami’s long straights.

“If they are close to us, it’s going to be very difficult but we have got this advantage in the corners where hopefully they will be too far to then have an opportunity of overtaking us in the straights. Only time will tell and we’ll only see that tomorrow, but again the pace of the car is quite strong so we’ll focus on ourselves and we’ll see where we are tomorrow.”

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